The Cat's Meat
Man - Harper's
PREPARING CAT'S MEAT IN FULTON MARKET.
In one corner of Fulton Market in New York city is the snug little stall
of the cat's-meat man. He is a jolly, merry-looking fellow, as you may
see by his picture; and he sings and whistles as he works. In the
morning he goes about the streets feeding his cats; but his afternoons
are devoted to preparing their food for the next day.
Most of this food is raw meat, which, with a sharp knife, he cuts up
into very small pieces, until several hundred pounds are thus prepared.
Sometimes a small portion of the meat is boiled; but this cooked meat is
only intended for cats who are not very well, and who need something
more delicate than raw meat. Once a week—on Thursdays—the cat's-meat
man cuts up fish instead of meat; for on Fridays all his cats have a
meal of fish, of which they are very fond, and which is very good for
After the meat or fish has been nicely cut into bits, it is all done up
in small brown-paper parcels, each of which weighs a pound; and these
parcels are packed into great strong baskets. Each basket holds forty
or fifty of these pound packages, and is pretty heavy for the cat's-meat
man to carry.
Bright and early in the morning, soon after sunrise, the cat's-meat man
begins to feed his cats, starting out from the market with a big basket
of meat on his shoulder, and threading his way through the crooked
streets and lanes of the lower part of the city to the homes of his
SOME DOWN-TOWN CATS.
THE MORNING CALL.
Everywhere the cats and kittens are anxiously waiting and watching for
him, and sometimes they run out and meet him at the corners half a block
or more away from their homes. Often when he is feeding the cats on one
side of the street, those living on the other side run across, and
rubbing against his legs, mewing and purring, seem to beg him to hurry
and get over to their side. Of course these cats do not belong to the
cat's-meat man, though he takes just as much interest in them, and is
just as fond of them, as though they were his own. They are the cats
that live in the stores and warehouses of the lower portion of the city,
where they are kept as a protection against the armies of fierce rats
that come up from the wharves, and do terrible damage wherever the cats
are not too strong for them. For this reason the cats are highly prized
and well cared for in this part of the city, and the cat's-meat man
finds plenty of work to do in feeding them. He is paid for this by the
owners of the cats, and as he has about four hundred customers his
business is quite a thriving one.
The cats all know and love him, and are generally expecting him; but if
he opens the door of a store where one of his cats lives, and she is not
to be seen, he calls "Pss-pss-pss," and the kitty comes racing down
stairs, or from some distant corner, so fast that she nearly tumbles
head over heels in her hurry to get at her breakfast.
Some of the cats are only fed every other day, and they know just as
well as anybody when it is "off day," as the cat's-meat man calls it. On
these off days they lie perfectly still as he passes, paying no
attention to him; but on the days they are to be fed, these
"every-other-day cats" are the most eager of all, and travel the
greatest distances to meet their friend.
A CHARITY CAT.
Besides the cats, several dogs are fed daily by the cat's-meat man, and
of these the most interesting is Carlo. Carlo used to be a sailor dog,
but now he lives quietly in a store on Old Slip. His first master was a
sea-captain, with whom Carlo made voyages to many different parts of the
world. At last his kind master, who was as fond of Carlo as though he
had been an only child, became very sick with a terrible fever, and when
his ship reached New York, he was taken to a hospital to die. Carlo went
to the hospital with him, and just before the dying sailor breathed his
last, he begged a kind gentleman who stood beside his bed to take care
of Carlo. The gentleman promised to do so, and has ever since kept his
promise by giving Carlo a good home in his store, and paying the
cat's-meat man to feed him every day. Carlo repays this kindness by
keeping the store free from rats, and his reputation as a famous ratter
has spread far and wide through the neighborhood.
Many stray cats watch for the coming of the cat's-meat man, for they
know that he will befriend them, and many a tidbit does he give to some
lean hungry creature as he merrily trudges along through the winter
At certain corners the cat's-meat man is met by one of his assistants,
with whom he exchanges his empty basket for a full one. These
halting-places are well known to all the forlorn and homeless cats and
dogs, and at them a number of these always await his approach. He most
always throws them a few bits from his well-filled basket, for which
they seem very grateful, though they look as if they would be very glad
Besides feeding cats and dogs, the cat's-meat man cares for them when
they are sick, preparing special food for his patients, and sometimes
giving them small doses of medicine. So, you see, the cat's-meat man is
a real benefactor, and it is no wonder that all the cats and dogs in the
lower part of the city watch for his coming, and are glad when they see